PSYC 215 Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Electromyography, Theory Of Planned Behavior, Likert Scale

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Published on 25 Jul 2015
Chapter 6
The study of attitudes
Attitude: a positive, negative or mixed reaction to a person, object or idea. Often instantaneous and
automatic, like a reflex action. Serve important functions such as enabling us to judge quickly and
without much thought. Problem: can lead us to become close-minded, bias the way we interpret new
information and make us more resistant to change.
How attitudes are measured
-Self-report measures: easiest way, direct and straight forward. Attitudes sometimes too complex to
be measured by simple question (responses can be influenced by their wording, the order and
context in which they are asked…) Can also use attitude scale (Likert scale: list of statements
about an attitude and asked to indicate on a multiple-point scale how strongly they agree or
disagree with each statement) Results should be taken with caution: people are generally reluctant
to admit their failures, vices, weaknesses, unpopular opinions and prejudices: do not always
answer honestly. To get respondents to answer attitude questions more truthfully, can use bogus
pipeline: mechanical device that supposedly records our true feelings, like a lie-detector test.
Respondents tend to lie less not wanting to get caught in a lie (device doesn’t truly record feelings;
you just make the respondent believe it does).
-Covert measures: collect indirect, covert measures of attitudes that cannot be controlled: use
observable behaviour such as facial expressions, tone of voice and body language. Problem:
people monitor their overt behaviour just as they monitor self-report. Measures of arousal: reveal
the intensity of one’s attitude but not if it’s positive or negative. Facial electromyograph: certain
muscles in the face contract when we are happy, and different muscles contract when we are sad
(happiness: increases actitivy in the cheek muscles, sadness & distress: activity in forehead and
brow area). EEG: according to brain activity, people react automatically to positive and negative
attitude objects.
-The Implicit Association Test (IAT): measures the speed with which people associate pairs of
concepts. E.g.: People are quicker to respond when liked faces are paired with positive words and
disliked faces are paired with negative words. *People’s implicit attitudes are generally less
predictive of behaviour than their explicit attitudes*
How Attitudes Are Formed
People may be predisposed to hold certain attitudes: strong likes and dislikes may be rooted in our
genetic makeup.
Our most cherished attitudes often form as a result of our exposure to attitude objects: our history of
rewards and punishments, the attitudes of our parents, friends and enemies, the social and cultural
context in which we live…
People can form strong positive and negative attitudes toward neutral objects that somehow are linked
to emotionally charged stimuli (even when people are not conscious of this association)
The Link between Attitudes and Behaviour
Attitudes and behaviour don’t always go hand in hand, they are correlated only weakly.
Attitudes in context: One important factor: level of correspondence, or similarity, between attitude
measures and behaviour. Attitudes correlate with behaviour only when attitude measures closely
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